Is bitch a four-letter word? The New York City Council thinks so. It’s trying to officially albeit symbolically ban the use of the word. Councilwoman Darlene Mealy of Brooklyn introduced a measure on July 25 that would make the term verboten. The move follows the council’s ban earlier this year of the “n-word” (as the New York Times refers to it). Councilwoman Mealy calls the term deeply sexist and hateful. But some New Yorkers aren’t so sure.“Half my conversation would be gone,” Michael Musto, the Village Voice columnist who writes about celebrity gossip and the club scene, told the New York Times. “We toss it around with love.”
“I think it’s a description that is used insouciantly in the fashion industry,” Hamish Bowles, the European editor at large of Vogue, told the paper, while ordering sushi in the CondÃ© Nast cafeteria. “It would only be used in the fashion world with a sense of high irony and camp.”
In recent years the words has become more common, not just in music with “adult” lyrics but in mainstream TV shows such as Sex and the City and in permutations such as “beotch”, used as an endearment as well as insult. Lindsay Lohan was recently pictured wearing a t-shirt reading “Skinny Bitch!”
“If you’re an 8-year-old it’s a great idea. If you’re a 28-year-old it’s silly,” says Tula Karras, a 39-year-old journalist who lives in Brooklyn and has used the term with her friends. While she recognizes the ban is about respect, “you really can’t police linguistics in that way.”
Even Councilwoman Mealy, who introduced the measure, acknowledged that its use is widespread. “Even council members are saying that they use it to their wives,” she said, giving a curious insight into the marital politics of New York’s ruling class. So far 19 of 51 council members have signed on to the ban. The Council’s Civil Rights Committee is expected to debate the measure next month.
Its inspiration – as with so many things these days – is hip-hop music, with ten rappers cited in the legislation. “Ho” is also banned in the same bill. (No word yet on whether “Hey, ho” is bandied across council members’ dinner tables as yet.)
It has launched a semantic conversation that extends beyond the Empire State, with bloggers and commentators questioning the constitutionality of banning words, as well as analysis of the words themselves: “First of all, ho isn’t a word, it’s slang,” according to the blog Wake Up America. It continues: “How did we go down a road where banning words is okay, what has happened to our constitution?” “More of the nanny state” said a forensic psychologist blogger in Tennessee.
Typical, it had to be some ugly bitch councilwoman that proposed this.
Someone should start suing all these fools that want to ban everything.
I think I just might sue that bitch for offending me by taking a word out of my vocabulary that I use to express when women can’t stop flapping their gums.
Where the hell is freedom of speech.
When did it disappear?
BITCH BITCH BITCH BITCH BITCH
There. If you’re reading this in New York, you’re probably in trouble.